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Eyebrow Pencil Dupes! Featuring MAC, Clinique, and Sephora Brands


So I was at South Coast Plaza recently and discovered an exciting dupe for my HG eye brow pencil, the MAC Eye Brow Automatic Pencil in Spiked! I wanted to let you guys know because I know how popular these pencils are, and for good reason. They are soft, but waxy enough to stay on all day. There’s also a wide selection of shades. And as automatic eyebrow pencils go, they are one of the cheapest across in the board, meaning in department stores AND drugstores considering price/oz. Also, according to MakeupAlley, the MAC product I just mentioned in that particular shade is the HIGHEST rated brow product EVER. 🙂

Row 1: Clinique Quickliner in Dark Chocolate, Sephora Collection Retractable Waterproof Eyeliner in 10 Matte Brown Black, MAC Eye Brow in Stud, MAC Eye Brow in Spiked
Row 2: MAC Technakohl Liner in Brownborder, MAC Technakohl Liner in Photogravure

Here are the swatches of the various products that I want to mention in this post.

  1. Our first comparison/dupe suggestion is between the TOP LEFT swatch and the TOP RIGHT swatch, or respectively the Clinique Quickliner in Dark Chocolate (QL) and the MAC Eye Brow in Spiked (MSP).
    • Price: The QL is $1,250/oz ($15/0.012 oz) and since it is available from Sephora, it can be hoarded during the Friends and Family sale, which will knock the price down to $1,000/oz ($12/0.012 oz). The MSP is a shocking $5,000/oz ($15/0.003 oz). Win goes to QL.
    • Color: The colors are about the same. I actually prefer the QL’s slightly cooler undertone. The slight taupe-ness or ashiness matches my beloved D/C Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow in Ash even better. So in my situation, the win goes again to QL.
    • Texture: The QL, which is an older/outdated formula, does not have that super pigmented and smooth texture one expects from a good eyeliner, such as the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencils. Furthermore, it has a slightly waxy texture that does not allow for an even application. Therefore, as an eyeliner, I can see why a lot of people don’t like it. But as a brow product, that’s perfect! The MAC is a bit more waxy, but it’s not quite so noticeably. I consider this a tie.
    • Verdict: Considering that the QL is FIVE times cheaper than the MSP, is a better color match for me, and still lasts all day, I’m definitely switching to the QL after I’m done with my current MSP.
  2. Our second comparison/dupe suggestion is between the TOP SECOND FROM THE RIGHT swatch and the BOTTOM RIGHT swatch, or respectively the MAC Eye Brow in Stud (MST) and the MAC Technakohl Liner in Photogravure (MTP).
    • Price: The MST is $5,000/oz ($15/0.003 oz), and the MTP is $1,250/oz ($15/0.012 oz). Not as great as the QL, but still a lot cheaper. Win goes to MTP.
    • Color: In the photo above, probably due to flash, the colors don’t look that similar. Also, the MTP was swatched a bit more heavily. But in person, they look quite similar. I’d imagine if I had super dark brows, I could pull both off. Tie.
    • Texture: The MTP, being a more recent liner than the QL, is a bit smoother and creamier, but again, still not as much as the Urban Decay Glide-On Pencils. But after a few minutes, all the swatches dried really well and become quite transfer-proof. The only caution I’d give would be to use a lighter hand when applying the MTP. No one wants harsh brows. Win goes to the MST.
    • Verdict: This battle is less one-sided, but I’d still go with the MTP since it’s significantly cheaper. The other qualities are certainly workable.


  • Ignore the two swatches that I didn’t compare. Since they’re both the wrong color, they aren’t applicable in my search for an eyebrow pencil dupe. I can tell you that both colors are similar in person however (a rich red-brown), if you’re interested. Texture-wise, they are also similar. The MAC may be slightly more creamy, but that’s about it. However, I can’t speak of longevity, so I won’t make any recommendations.
  • I realize that there are EVEN cheaper options in the drugstore like the Physician’s Formula Brow Definer. But I guess I like having the options of being able to test out products in stores and drugstores don’t allow that. Oh, and I can tell you that to the best of my knowledge, there’s only one automatic eyebrow pencil from the department store that’s cheaper, which is the one from Sephora. It’s awful, trust me. Yes I know, I’m a bit of a makeup snob. My justification is that, since I have so few makeup items, I’d rather have them from a department store so I can have the chance to find the very best in each category. I’m basically paying for the opportunity to test-drive products first. You can’t even begin to imagine how many different liquid foundation samples I have… Maybe I should attach a photo of that. Lol!
  • I also realize that there are better price/oz brow pencils, specifically ones that aren’t automatic. Most pencils that need sharpening have 0.04 oz of product, which is almost 4x more product. And even considering the fact sharpening rids about 50% of the product, that’s still 2x more product. But whatever, I don’t want to bother with having to constantly sharpen my pencils, and having them sometimes be too sharp (right after sharpening) and at other times, too dull. Ack, I’m lazy. I need a perfect and usable tip every time.

So I hope you guys found this a tad useful. And if you know someone that uses a MAC Eye Brow in either Stud or Spiked, let them know about this post! Also don’t worry, this blog will still be 99% about skin care. Occasionally though, I will write about important or unique makeup finds or experiences. I personally wrote this because even though I’m subscribed to a ton of excellent beauty gurus on YT and blogs, I’ve NEVER heard this suggestion before. Or anything remotely like it. So yeah, just throwing it out there. Enjoy!

P. S. I always love to hear your guys’ thoughts! Oh and in case anyone was wondering, I use the Bobbi Brown Long Wear Cream Shadow in Ash to fill in my of my eyebrow, then use the pencil after to give my brows a bit more shape, symmetry, and extra oomph in super sparse areas.

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


4 thoughts on “Eyebrow Pencil Dupes! Featuring MAC, Clinique, and Sephora Brands

  1. Have you tried the Instant Lift for Brows? Would love your thoughts.

    Posted by Cathi | October 5, 2012, 7:12 pm
    • I do have a sample of it from a GWP, but it’s in the wrong color. However, I can tell you that the texture is pleasant: waxy enough to hold hairs in place, without being too stiff (Shu Uemura Hard 9 Brow Pencil I’m looking at you).

      In terms of price, because this isn’t available from Sephora, the Friends and Family discount cannot be applied. However, it is slightly more affordable than the MAC Eye Brow Pencils. The packaging claims that the brow pencil side has 0.004 oz compared to 0.003 oz for the MAC. The highlighter side has 0.01 oz in case you were wondering.

      However, I wouldn’t purchase this because I have no use for the highlighter side, which is a peachy cream shade with a moderate amount of shine. And because it only has 3 shades and cannot be used for the back-to-MAC program, if I had to choose between this and the MAC version, I’d choose the MAC one every time.

      I hope that made sense and thanks for commenting!

      Posted by John | October 6, 2012, 5:08 am
      • I bought one in the darkest shade (brows are very dark). Its easy to use, but the highlighter isn’t quite right for me. Too shiny, distractingly so, IMO. I may pass this on to my daughter and try your suggestion of the Quick Liner. I’m really enjoying your website, btw. Cheers!

        Posted by Cathi | October 7, 2012, 10:02 am
        • Thanks for your support! Just be careful with the application because I heard that the Quick Liner was reformulated to be more creamy, so I’m not sure if this product is as appropriate anymore. But give it a try. 🙂

          Posted by John | October 8, 2012, 1:14 pm

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